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Rice Balls (Omo Tuo)

1 cup white rice (I use long-grain, but not precooked)
~4 c water
1&1/2 teaspoon salt (optional, I usually omit this)

Bring the rice, water and salt (if using) to a boil in a large heavy pot (or a rice cooker). Turn down the heat to low, cover, and allow the rice to cook for about 20 minutes.You may have to take off the lid and let it cook down another 5-10 minutes.When the rice is cooked (but not too dry), turn off the heat and let it sit until it is cool enough to handle.Using a potato masher, a strong wooden spoon, a heavy glass, or something similar, mash the rice until it is fairly smooth. (If you have a wonderful wooden masher from Ghana like the one here, lucky you! It's easy to hold and use.)
Wet hands or dip an ice cream scoop or spoon into the water, then scoop up enough of the rice to shape into a ball, like a snowball. If the balls will not stick together, put the rice back on the stove to dry it out slightly.

 To accompany a main dish soup, a cup of rice makes about 6-8 rice balls, depending on the size.

To serve in place of rolls as a first course, say, with groundnut or light soup, I use a small spoon or melon baller (dipped in water first) to scoop out the rice and then shape tiny balls. I serve 2 or 3 in each bowl of soup. Rice balls can be made ahead of time and warmed in the oven or microwave just before serving.

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